Tag Archives: Mitch McConnell

McCain tributes remind us of what has gone wrong

As I have watched the various tributes pouring in to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. John McCain, I am reminded of what some folks might say is the obvious.

I am reminded that as the men and women spoke of the late senator’s principled passion that much of the principle has been decimated in the name of partisan passion.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke of his “love” for his political adversary. He spoke of a friendship that transcended partisan differences. The Democratic ex-VP talked about how McCain’s devotion to principle superseded his Republican credentials.

Indeed, the same message came from Senate Majority Leader (and fellow Republican) Mitch McConnell, who today echoed much of what Biden said the previous day. McConnell noted that McCain could be your strongest ally or your most ferocious political foe. Indeed, McConnell and McCain had their differences over campaign finance reform — for which McCain fought and McConnell opposed.

What is missing today? The sense that political opponents need not be “enemies.” McCain could be irascible, grouchy, in your face, profane. He assumed all those postures because he believed strongly in whatever principle for which he was fighting.

Almost to a person, those who memorialized Sen. McCain reminded us of how it used to be in Washington and how it could become once again. If only the late senator’s political descendants would follow his lead.

I have been uplifted by the tributes to this American hero and political titan. I also am saddened by the comparison to the political standards he set to what has become of them in the here and now.

What happened to the ‘Dog Days of August’?

There used to be a phenomenon in journalism, where newspaper reporters and editors would bemoan the “Dog Days of August. ”

Congress would go on recess, with U.S. senators and House members scattering hither and yon. Out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, and the president would go on vacation, hiding away with his wife and kids; maybe enjoying themselves with extended family members and perhaps a few good friends.

News days got slow.

No more, man! Not with this president or this Congress. I want to thank Donald Trump and congressional leadership for providing bloggers such as me and full-time print and broadcast journalists with plenty of grist that will carry us through the era known formerly as the Dog Days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has kept senators on the job through the summer recess. House members have gone about doing whatever it is they when they’re not prowling the Capitol Hill halls of power.

As for the president, he hasn’t let up one bit while he vacations in New Jersey with his wife and son, Barron.

He’s gone after pro football players yet again for protesting police practices against African Americans. He keeps harping on that “witch hunt” that has produced several indictments from the special counsel who’s looking for answers to The Russia Thing. He launched creation of the Space Force, the sixth military branch.

There’s no let-up. We’ll all need to buck ourselves up as we prepare for the home stretch leading toward the highly consequential midterm election.

Let’s all get plenty rest. We’ll need our strength.

Democrats ‘obstruct’ and ‘resist’? They learned from the best

Donald John Trump suffers acute short-term memory loss.

Take a quick gander at this message, which he sent out via Twitter:

The only things the Democrats do well is “Resist,” which is their campaign slogan, and “Obstruct.” Cryin’ Chuck Schumer has almost 400 great American people that are waiting “forever” to serve our Country! A total disgrace. Mitch M should not let them go home until all approved!

Sigh and double-sigh!

“Mitch M” is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose picture should appear next to the dictionary definition of “obstructionist.” Why is that?

Well, he obstructed President Barack Obama’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama nominated federal judge Merrick Garland, a supremely qualified candidate. McConnell obstructed the nomination even before the president announced it, declaring that in 2016 there would be an election first and that Obama would not be allowed to fill this seat even though he had nearly a year to go before moving aside for the next president.

Obstructionist, Mr. President? “Mitch M” is the king of obstructionists.

Self-awareness, Mr. Majority Leader?

I could barely contain myself. I wanted to toss a shoe at the TV set as I listened to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemn what he called “far left” resistance to whomever Donald J. Trump would appoint to the Supreme Court.

Why, he just cannot fathom how these groups could make such judgments without even knowing who the president plans to select.

Wow! Does the majority leader — who made his remarks in a Senate floor speech — not remember what he said immediately after Antonin Scalia died in early 2016, creating a vacancy on the high court?

Let me remind him. About an hour after Justice Scalia died, McConnell declared that no one whom President Obama would appoint would get a hearing and a confirmation vote. He declared the president’s pick dead and buried. Obama had nearly a year left in office when McConnell mounted his successful obstruction campaign.

So now he is accusing lefties of pre-judging any appointment that would come from Donald Trump.

Does anyone else see the irony of this idiocy? He is leveling an accusation against a political opponent that he could have leveled against himself when the previous president sought to fulfill his constitutional responsibility.

This is rich.

Schumer to Trump: Why not select Merrick Garland?

It won’t happen in this universe, but it’s worth calling attention to this strange idea.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — the Senate’s top Democrat — has urged Donald Trump to select Merrick Garland to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hell would freeze over, Earth would spin off its axis and the sun would rise in the west for that to happen.

However …

Schumer is making the request in the name of national unity. Garland, a centrist appeals court judge, was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — declared any high court nominee Obama would put forward would go nowhere. McConnell announced his intention to obstruct the nomination and confirmation process.

Garland got nominated. His nomination languished. Trump got elected president. The new president nominated Neil Gorsuch, who then was confirmed.

We’re still divided, significantly because of the theft of the Supreme Court seat by McConnell.

Unification could occur if Trump were to follow Schumer’s advice. I mean, Trump has promised unity. Hasn’t he?

It won’t happen. The idea of nominating Merrick Garland does cause a tingle or two among many of us out here. I’m one of them.

Wait for Mueller before making SCOTUS pick?

An interesting idea is being floated by those with some stake in the president’s next selection for the U.S. Supreme Court.

It goes like this: Donald Trump should wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to finish his probe into the “Russia thing” before making his choice known. Think for a moment about this. What if Mueller determines there is some criminality involved in the Trump presidential campaign’s dealing with Russian goons who meddled in our 2016 election? What happens if that case ends up eventually before the nation’s highest court?

Does the president deserve to select someone who might have a material interest in determining the legal fate of a case involving the president, his campaign and, indeed, the presidency itself?

There’s plenty of chatter already that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should allow the midterm election to determine the Senate composition before sending this nomination up for a Senate vote; the Senate must confirm this appointment. McConnell did manage to block President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in early 2016 shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama had nearly a year left in his presidency, but McConnell said the Senate needed to wait until the presidential election before considering anyone for the court.

Mueller well might be getting near the end of his exhaustive probe. Should we wait for the special counsel to finish his task and deliver his report to America? Sure. Why not?

Rethinking the notion of ‘presidential prerogative’

I long have believed in the concept of presidential prerogative, meaning that presidents have the right to appoint people to high office assuming those people are qualified to do the job to which they have been appointed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has disabused me just a little bit from that long held belief.

McConnell ignored presidential prerogative in 2016 when he blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. There was a year left in Obama’s tenure as president; Antonin Scalia had died and Obama selected a true-blue moderate to the highest court in America.

McConnell blocked it. He said the Senate shouldn’t consider a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

His obstructionism infuriated many Americans. Me included. I believed the president had the right to select whoever he wanted, given that he had been re-elected in 2012. I also have said the very same thing about presidents regardless of party over many years. You can look it up. Honest. I have.

Now, though, we have another president getting ready to select someone to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of July. I normally would give Donald Trump the green light on this one. Except that McConnell laid down a rule that he forced the Senate to obey in 2016.

Two years later, doesn’t that rule still apply? Hey, what’s good enough then should be good enough now.

Do the people deserve to be heard this time?

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say in February 2016 as it regarded President Barack Obama’s desire to nominate someone to replace the U.S. Supreme Court Justice  Antonin Scalia: The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.

Hmm. What do you think of that?

Here we are, in June 2018. The Supreme Court has just been opened up yet again. Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement. Sen. McConnell said he intends to push for a Senate vote by this fall.

Hey! Wait a minute!

We have an election coming up. One-third of the Senate, which must confirm the next appointee, is on the ballot. It could swing from narrow Republican control to Democratic control after the November midterm election.

Don’t the “American people” have the right to be heard in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice? Don’t they, Mr. Leader?

That was his bogus rationale in blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination from President Obama in 2016. The president had a year left in his tenure. We had a presidential election coming up later that year. McConnell said “no way” on the nomination. He blocked it. He obstructed the president. He then — in a shameful display of a lack of self-awareness — accused Democrats of “playing politics” when they insisted that the Senate hold confirmation hearings and then vote on Garland’s nomination.

If anyone “played politics” with that nomination, it was Mitch McConnell!

Now, the leader wants to fast-track the latest Supreme Court nomination on the eve of an equally important election that could determine the ideological and partisan balance in the body that must confirm this nomination.

Does this election count as much as the 2016 presidential election? Aren’t U.S. senators members of a “co-equal branch of government”? Or is the majority leader going to play politics yet again by ramrodding this nomination through — before the people have the chance to have their voices heard?

Yep, elections do have serious consequences

Oh, brother. Is there any more proof needed about the impact of presidential elections than the decision today handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court?

The high court ruled 5-4 today to uphold Donald J. Trump’s travel ban involving countries from a handful of mostly Muslim countries.

The conservative majority voted with the president; the liberal minority voted against him.

There you have it. Trump’s travel ban will stand. He will crow about it. He’ll proclaim that the court is a body comprising men of wisdom; bear in mind that the three women who sit on the court today voted against the travel ban. Had the decision gone the other way, he would declare the court to be “too political,” he would chastise the justices’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution (if you can believe it).

The court decision today has reaffirmed the president’s decision to discriminate against people based on their religious faith. Nice.

The partisan vote on the court today also has brought a smile to another leading politician: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose obstructionism in the final year of the Barack Obama presidency denied Trump’s predecessor the right to fill a seat created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Constitution gives the president the right to nominate judges; it also grants the Senate the right to “advise and consent” on those nominations. The Senate majority leader decided to obstruct the president’s ability to do his job.

President Obama nominated a solid moderate, Merrick Garland, to succeed Scalia. McConnell put the kibosh on it, declaring almost immediately after Scalia’s death that the president would not be able to fill the seat. McConnell would block it. And he did.

A new president was elected and it turned out to be Donald Trump, who then nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was approved narrowly by the Senate. Gorsuch proved to be the deciding vote in today’s ruling that upholds the Trump travel ban.

Do elections have consequences? You bet they do.

Frightening, yes? In my humble view — given the stakes involved at the Supreme Court — most assuredly.

Let the special counsel finish his job

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting antsy about the probe being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.

McConnell wants Mueller to finish it up. Call it good now. End it. Move on to the next thing.

I believe the majority leader needs to settle down and needs to let Mueller continue his job at his pace, gathering facts and evidence with all deliberate speed.

Mueller is examining whether Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency included some “collusion” with Russians who meddled in the election outcome in 2016. This is a complicated, tedious, meticulous investigation.

McConnell says it has gone on “forever.” Actually, Mr. Leader, it’s only a little more than a year in progress.

Whitewater? Do you remember that one? The probe that looked initially at a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton plodded along a lot longer than the Mueller investigation has gone. Did the Kentucky Republican senator call for that investigation to end?

Let’s see. Oh, I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump’s constant yammering about a “witch hunt” has gotten to McConnell. It has spooked him beyond reason. Yes, the majority leader says he supports the Mueller probe. I appreciate McConnell’s statements of support.

However, the former FBI director (Mueller) needs time to finish a complicated investigation into questions that deal fundamentally with the integrity of our nation’s electoral system.

This stuff needs time to sort out.